Homeless in Arizona

American War Machine


What BS - Afghanistan still matters because al-Qaida is a threat

What BS!!!! The real reason we are in Afghanistan and Iraq is to provide a government welfare program for the corporations in the military industrial complex along with a jobs program for highly paid Generals and Admirals.

From a military point of view the American Empire has lost both wars just like we lost the war in Vietnam.

From a Constitutional point of view both wars are unconstitutional because neither war was declared by the President and approved by Congress. Just like the Vietnam war.

And of course both of the wars were never in the best interest of the American government or the American people, other then to provide a welfare program for the special interest groups that helped the President and members of Congress get elected. And of course that special interest group is the military, industrial complex, just like it was in Vietnam.


Afghanistan still matters because al-Qaida is a threat

by Robert Burns - Sept. 11, 2012 11:30 PM

Associated Press

U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan, nearly 11 years after they invaded. Why? The answer boils down to one word: al-Qaida. The goal is to damage the terrorist group enough to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks.

After nearly tripling the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009-10, President Barack Obama is now pulling them out, aiming to end all U.S. combat there by December 2014. Mitt Romney has outlined a broad goal for the war that is similar to Obama's: Hand over security responsibility to the Afghans at a pace that does not risk the country's collapse and al-Qaida's return.

Only small numbers of al-Qaida fighters are still in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden is dead. But the threat they represent is still the main reason Americans are fighting and dying there.

If U.S. and allied forces were to leave before the Afghans can defend themselves, the Taliban would regain power. And if they were in charge, then al-Qaida would not be far behind.

What's often overlooked is this: Why are the Afghans still not capable of self-defense? And when they will get there?

The official answer is 2014. By the end of that year, the U.S. and its allies are scheduled to end their combat role. The Afghans will be fully in charge and the Americans will leave.

So, from an American point of view, what is at stake in Afghanistan is avoiding a repeat of 9/11. But it is also true that the United States faces threats on other fronts. Some of those threats have arisen as a consequence of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, just weeks after the traumatizing 9/11 attacks.

Al-Qaida has migrated to other countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and various spots in North Africa.

Thus, al-Qaida remains a worry, but its presence in Afghanistan does not seem to trouble many Americans. Although nearly 2,000 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, the war is hardly an issue in the presidential campaign.

The outcome in Afghanistan is also important because of the enormous investment in human lives over the past decade. To let it unravel and revert to a pre-9/11 Taliban rule would be seen by many as dishonoring those sacrifices.

Jail any jurors who say they are not qualified???

How are you going to get good jurors if you jail ones that admit not being qualified???

From the governments point of view maybe the message is that if you are a juror you should shut up and rubber stamp and convict anybody the government says is a criminal!

Even if you are a racist bigot like this guy you are certainly qualified to do that.


Juror says he’s too homophobic and racist to serve, now faces prosecution

By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | The Sideshow

A British man who said his "extreme homophobic and racist views" should make him ineligible for jury duty now faces prosecution over the claim.

The Daily Echo reports that the man's identity is being kept anonymous for now but that Judge Gary Burrell QC read the leader in open court. In the letter, the man writes:

"I strongly believe that it would be a serious injustice to the legal system to select me for jury service.

"I hold extreme prejudices against homosexuals and black/foreign people and couldn't possibly be impartial if either appeared in court. Therefore it would not be in the court's interest to have me a juror."

In addition, the man said that if he were selected, he also would not pay attention to the case and would simply vote with the majority.

The man had been selected to serve on a jury in the case of a man on trial for assault and reckless driving. And while Burrell questioned the authenticity of the man's claim, he nonetheless dismissed him from jury duty.

Though he escaped jury duty, the man could soon find himself on trial. The prosecutor and defense attorneys in the case, barristers Rebecca Austin and Robert Bryan, stepped outside their traditional role of legal combatants to lodge a joint complaint against the man.

Under Britain's Contempt of Courts Act, he could face prison time or a fine for failing to serve on jury duty.

"The Attorney General's Office is aware of this case, and we await more information from Judge Burrell," said a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.

NASA's Huge New Rocket May Cost $500 Million Per Launch

Of course a half billion bucks is the estimated cost. After the typical cost overruns, this turkey could cost $1 billion, $2 billion, maybe even $3 billion or more per launch.

I believe that the actual costs for the Space Shuttle were over 10 times the initial predicted costs.

The final Space Shuttle costs were $18,000 per kilo launched into verses initial cost estimates of $1,400 per kilo.


NASA's Huge New Rocket May Cost $500 Million Per Launch

By Mike Wall | SPACE.com

The giant rocket NASA is building to carry astronauts to Mars and other destinations in deep space may cost $500 million per launch when it's flying regularly, space agency officials said Tuesday (Sept. 11).

NASA is eyeing $500 million as a target right now for the Space Launch System (SLS) when it begins making roughly one flight per year, which could begin happening after 2023. But things could change as the SLS program — which was just announced in September 2011 — matures, officials said.

"We've estimated somewhere around the $500 million number is what an average cost per flight is," SLS deputy project manager Jody Singer, of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said Tuesday during a presentation at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ SPACE 2012 conference in Pasadena, Calif.

"But again, I'd caution you, because we still are working on our contracts and where we're going," Singer added. "Plus we're in the development phase, and you really have to have a little bit more of a steady-state flight launch to be able to get the more efficient launch rate. But that's the number we're using right now." [Photos: NASA's Space Launch System]

NASA's next big rocket

NASA unveiled the SLS just two months after the last flight of its venerable space shuttle program, which was grounded in July 2011 after 30 years of orbital service.

But the giant rocket and the capsule it will loft — known as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle — are not a replacement for the space shuttle. That space-taxi role will be filled by private American spaceships, which NASA is grooming to be ready to carry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit by 2017.

The SLS-Orion combo, on the other hand, is a deep space transportation system. In 2010, President Barack Obama charged NASA with getting astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 and then on to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s, and SLS-Orion is how NASA will try to make that happen.

The first test flight of the SLS is slated for 2017, and NASA hopes the rocket will begin lofting astronauts in 2021.

If the SLS is able to meet the $500 million target, it would end up being cheaper to fly than the space shuttle. The shuttle program cost about $209 billion (in 2010 dollars) over its lifetime and made a total of 135 flights, yielding an average cost per launch of more than $1.5 billion.

Two or three flights per year

In its initial incarnation, the SLS will be capable of lifting 70 metric tons of payload. But NASA eventually plans to build several variants of the rocket, allowing it to carry 105 tons in one configuration and 130 tons in another.

"We can move from one configuration to the other configuration with not a lot of cost," Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said Tuesday at the SPACE 2012 conference.

"It's clear for the Mars missions that we talk about, we're going to need the 130 metric ton capability," Gerstenmaier added. "For a lot of other missions — from the science missions, et cetera — they can really be supported well with the 105 metric ton capability rocket."

NASA is also aiming to launch the SLS-Orion combo two or three times per year eventually, Gerstenmaier said. That rate should be sufficient to take care of the agency's human spaceflight business beyond Earth orbit, and it will help keep costs down.

"We don't want to build a huge infrastructure that supprts a very high flight rate — then it'd cost us a lot if we're at substantially less than that flight rate," Gerstenmaier said.

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com

Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

From this article it sounds like President Obama is more loyal to the government bureaucrats that work for him, then the "taxpayers" he pretends to work for.


Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

Associated Press

September 14, 2012, 12:29 p.m.

A new White House report issued Friday warns that $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts at the start of the new year would be "deeply destructive" to the military and core government responsibilities like patrolling U.S. borders and air traffic control.

The report says the automatic cuts, mandated by the failure of last year's congressional deficit "supercommittee" to strike a budget deal, would require an across-the-board cut of 9 percent to most Pentagon programs and an 8 percent cut in many domestic programs. The process of automatic cuts is called sequestration, and the administration has no flexibility in how to distribute the cuts, other than to exempt military personnel and war-fighting accounts.

"Sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions," the report says.

The cuts, combined with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year, have been dubbed the "fiscal cliff." Economists warn that the one-two punch could drive the economy back into recession.

The across-the-board cuts were devised as part of last summer's budget and debt deal between President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Republicans. They were intended to drive the supercommittee — evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans — to strike a compromise. But the panel deadlocked and the warring combatants have spent more time since then blaming each other for the looming cuts than seeking ways to avoid them.

The White House report continues in that vein, blasting House Republicans for an approach to avoiding the sequester that relies on further cuts to domestic programs while protecting upper-bracket taxpayers from higher rates proposed by the president.

In advance of the report's release, White House press secretary Jay Carney went on the offensive, blasting "the adamant refusal of Republicans to accept the fundamental principle that we ought to deal with our fiscal challenges in a balanced way."

In advance of the election, rival Democratic and GOP sides are dug in, unwilling to make the required compromises and unable to trust the other side. It's commonly assumed that there will be more serious efforts to forestall the cuts in a postelection lame duck session, though it may only be for a short time, to give the next Congress and whoever occupies the White House a chance to work out a longer-term solution.

If not, sharp cuts are on the way.

The report warns that the Pentagon faces cuts that "would result in a reduction in readiness of many nondeployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts and reductions in base services for military families." [What rubbish! American spends more on it's military then all of the other countries of the world combined!!!]

On the domestic front, the White House warns of dire effects as well.

"The number of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, correctional officers and federal prosecutors would be slashed. [Sounds like a great time to end the drug war and fire all the cops, prosecutors, and prison guards that are used to arrest and imprison people for the victimless crime of pot smoking] The Federal Aviation Administration's ability to oversee and manage the nation's airspace and air traffic control would be reduced," the report says. "The Department of Agriculture's efforts to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be curtailed."

Many big programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal employee pensions and veterans' benefits and health care would be exempted. Medicare would be limited to an $11 billion, 2 percent cut in provider payments.

Also cut would be $14 million to treat emergency responders and others made ill as a result of the 9/11 attacks; $33 million for federal prosecution of violent crimes against women; and $2.5 billion for medical research and other work by the National Institutes of Health.

Other cuts would include $5 million from Obama's own office at the White House; $140 million from financial aid for college students; $216 million from efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons; $471 million from highway construction and $1 billion from aid for handicapped and children with other special needs.

The 394-page report, however, simply lists the dollar amount of the cuts but fails to address their real-world impact. For instance, it would cut the number of food inspectors and air traffic controllers on the job. But when asked on a conference call, a top White House official wouldn't say whether such cuts would require closing meatpacking plants or shutting down smaller airports.

"The report makes clear that sequestration would cause great disruptions across many vital services, from cancer research at NIH to food safety efforts at the Department of Agriculture, and public safety at the FBI to lowered military readiness," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the Budget Committee's top Democrat. "It's time to stop the political games and start working together to prevent the sequester, protect the economic recovery and get our fiscal house in order."

Anti-American violence in the Middle East

Here are a whole bunch of articles on the anti-American violence that started to surface on Sept 11, 2012 in the Middle East.

When you are the worlds only super bully you have to expect things like this to happen.

Scandals led to Arizona Air Guard firings

Wow! There are 8,000 unneeded government bureaucrats in the Arizona National Guard

Wow the Arizona National Guard has 8,000 employees!!! I didn't know Arizona needed a military force that large. As unusual I suspect they are a bunch of do nothing bureaucrats who could all be fired without causing the state of Arizona any problems.

But the main point of this article is many of those government bureaucrats in the Arizona National Guard are crooks who are screwing us citizens that pay their wages.


Scandals led to Arizona Air Guard firings

by Dennis Wagner - Sept. 15, 2012 10:53 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Five top commanders fired from Arizona's Air National Guard lost their jobs amid fallout from two scandals that were never made public by military officials: fraudulent expense filings totaling more than $1 million, and harassment of the state's only female fighter pilot, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic and interviews of those involved.

In 2009, an Air Force audit alleged that more than two dozen Tucson officers submitted false claims to collect payments covering housing and other temporary-duty expenses. A year later, an F-16 pilot quit her full-time job after being subjected to abuse by fellow officers after becoming pregnant. Both events resulted in the dismissal of commanders by Brig. Gen. Michael Colangelo, who subsequently was accused of abusing his authority.

Colangelo, the head of the Arizona Air National Guard, was terminated last month in the wake of an Air Force inspector general's report that accused him of misconduct in relieving the four subordinates. Thursday was Colangelo's last day in the National Guard under a removal order issued by Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, the state's top military officer.

The National Guard is a state force that reports to the governor. Its roughly 8,000 employees provide border security, disaster response and other Arizona services. The Guard also works with the federal military, deploying soldiers and airmen for active duty as needed by the Pentagon.

Colangelo, with more than 34 years of service, oversaw about 2,500 Air Guard personnel statewide, including an F-16 Fighter Wing and MQ-1 Predator Group in Tucson, and the KC-135 Tanker Wing based in Phoenix. He previously headed Arizona's Joint Counter Narco-Terrorism Task Force, a law-enforcement coalition that gathers intelligence.

In a Republic interview, and in letters to Salazar and Gov. Jan Brewer, Colangelo disputed the inspector general's findings against him and said he was punished for sustaining the Air Force code and holding subordinates accountable for egregious misconduct.

Salazar said he, too, disagrees with the inspector general's conclusion that Colangelo abused his authority. He said he fired Colangelo not because of the investigative findings, but because angry e-mails Colangelo sent in the aftermath revealed a loss of trust between the commanders.

The dispute sent shock waves through an organization made up mostly of weekend service members. Numerous officers told The Republic the power struggles and scandals raise serious questions about ethical standards in the National Guard.

"The governor's staff needs to look into this and perhaps make some tough decisions about leadership," said retired Maj. Gen. Bill Van Dyke, a former head of the National Guard.

Air Force graft

The string of Air Guard firings began in late 2009 after investigators alleged fraud in the 214th Reconnaissance Group, which operates worldwide Predator drone flights out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. An audit completed in March found that Air Guard officers in Tucson unlawfully collected about $1.1 million in living expenses over several years.

Air Force policy allows airmen on temporary duty away from home to collect payments for housing, meals and other expenses. Auditors found a majority of the accounts scrutinized were invalid or contained "admitted fraudulent activity," in some cases authorized by the group commander. The report said more than two dozen airmen in Tucson used fictitious addresses and collected housing and per diem expenses even though they lived there. In one case, investigators found airmen had rented one another's homes so they could submit fraudulent receipts.

"This condition occurred due to a complete breakdown of management controls," auditors wrote. "The lack of effective procedures allowed 214th RG members to illegally exploit opportunities for personal gain without penalty."

Retired Lt. Col. Michael Kavanaugh, who was second in command of the group, said not one of those accused was interviewed by auditors. "I don't agree with the audit findings," Kavanaugh said. "Any realistic investigator would interview all people responsible."

Salazar said the officers' conduct fell under Air Force jurisdiction. Available records show at least one officer received an Article 15 -- the military punishment beneath a court martial. Those who profited from illicit expense checks were ordered to pay reimbursements of up to $90,000. Suspected criminal conduct was referred to the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, but no known prosecutions have occurred.

Col. Gregg Davies, the group commander, was terminated by Colangelo on Nov. 23, 2009. Davies could not be reached for comment.

One of Davies' aides, Col. Thomas "Buzz" Rempfer, complained up the chain of command about Davies' firing, promotion practices and other issues, ultimately seeking several inspector-general probes. He was dismissed in June 2011 and filed an appeal.

Salazar turned down the appeal. But the inspector general concluded that Rempfer's dismissal was retaliatory and a violation of military regulations that protect whistle-blowers. Rempfer nevertheless was not reinstated.

Rempfer and Davies could not be reached for comment.

Many federal agencies have inspector-general offices responsible for examining policies, practices and complaints. Their investigative findings cannot be appealed.

Pilot harassment

In September 2010, Colangelo learned about alleged harassment of Maj. Windy Hendrick, an F-16 pilot at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson.

Colangelo said he interviewed Hendrick, a flight instructor who had become pregnant, and learned that she was planning to resign because of verbal abuse and mistreatment.

In a letter to Salazar, Colangelo reported that a supervisor admitted upbraiding Hendrick in front of fellow pilots, asking, "Do we now call you a (expletive) whore or a (expletive) rabbit?" Hendrick also reported that she had been denied a promotion without explanation, other than a rebuke for her absence because of pregnancy.

Immediately after speaking with Hendrick, Colangelo phoned Brig. Gen. Greg "Mongo" Stroud, commander of the fighter wing. Colangelo said he told Stroud of the allegations and ordered him to take no action until an inquiry could be conducted. "I explicitly told him NOT to engage Maj. Hendrick," Colangelo wrote to Salazar, "and to leave her alone for now."

Within hours, Stroud called Hendrick into his office to discuss her complaints and offer her a non-pilot position. In an interview, Stroud denied Colangelo directly ordered him not to confront Hendrick. Stroud said he had a "heart-to-heart" with the pilot and offered other jobs hoping to resolve the problem.

Colangelo fired Stroud on Sept. 20, 2010, after conferring with Salazar and military lawyers. Paul Forshey Jr., who retired as the Guard's top lawyer earlier this year, confirmed that statement. "Every officer that Colangelo fired, I gave him legal advice," said Forshey. "I was in the briefings where Salazar said, 'OK.' "

The reason for Stroud's dismissal was not made public. Instead, a retirement bash was held in Tucson with U.S. Sen. John McCain and then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among the dignitaries attending.

According to Colangelo's letter appealing his dismissal to Salazar, Col. Randall Straka, the F-16 operations group commander, presented a retirement gift to Stroud. It was a .45-caliber pistol containing one live round that had a name engraved on it.

In correspondence with Salazar, Colangelo said Straka told the audience that real fighter pilots have a unique salute: They "give each other the middle finger and call each other 'bitch.' "

"This was a completely made-up story to well over 400 unit members and VIPs," Colangelo wrote. "More importantly, Col. Straka ended his comments at this formal military retirement ceremony by standing at attention, giving Brig. Gen. Stroud the middle finger and loudly saying, 'Bitch.' The pathetic translation in front of over 400 wing members was, '(Expletive) you, Maj. Hendrick.' "

Five days later, Colangelo advised Salazar that Hendrick was so distraught she had decided to resign: "She believes the name on the bullet was hers. She wanted me to know that she is quitting and she simply can't take it anymore."

As it turned out, Colangelo said, his name -- not Hendrick's -- was etched on the bullet. Straka, who could not be reached for comment, was fired for that incident on Jan. 4, 2011. According to Salazar, Straka "accepted responsibility for his conduct ... and admitted that what he did was unprofessional."

Stroud, now employed by a civilian defense contractor, said the Air Force Office of Special Investigations reviewed video from the retirement party and took no action. He said Colangelo set out to remove Air Guard leaders in Tucson and used the alleged harassment as a contrivance.

After retiring, Stroud wrote a widely disseminated e-mail decrying political correctness in the military. "I am tired of Fighter Pilots suffering at the hands of all the pencil-pushing REMFs (Rear-Echelon Mother [expletive] ) and ladder-climbing opportunists ... just because the Air Force is currently more interested in feelings and sexual orientation than fighting," he wrote. "Men and women can't flirt, hug, look at anyone sideways or drink beer out of a mermaid mug because of you 'victims' and your lawyers."

"Fighter Pilots, who are willing to die so that we can have low prices at gas pumps and shop at the mall, should be able to throw the wildest parties they can manage without one uptight biddy coming in and stopping it," the e-mail continued. " 'Victims' need to just throw some punches of their own whenever guys, gals, lesbos or homos get out of line ... I want an officer who knows how to whack some drunk in the balls when he grabs her tits, not call a press conference."

Stroud, a Top Gun pilot, said in an interview that his e-mail was an "ill-conceived" personal note written in anger. "I can tell you I regret having sent that," he added.

Colangelo and Salazar said the e-mail substantiated the decision to remove Stroud as wing commander.

Hendrick resigned from her full-time job as flight instructor days after the retirement ceremony. The veteran of 27 Middle East combat missions remains a National Guard member. She declined comment.

Findings disputed

Two fired commanders -- Stroud and Rempfer -- filed formal complaints against Colangelo with the Inspector General's Office at the Air Force, prompting a formal investigation. The Republic reviewed a redacted version of the final report, which concluded Colangelo abused his authority by dismissing the officers in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner.

Colangelo, in a letter to Salazar, assailed the 29-page document as biased and unprofessional. He noted that the investigator did not interview Salazar, who as Colangelo's boss supported each firing. He said the investigator omitted key information and got facts wrong.

For example, he noted, the inspector general's report does not reveal systemic fraud that led to Davies' termination, nor mention events at Stroud's retirement party.

"The IO (investigating officer) willfully fails to provide factual data that I used to make my command decisions. Rather, he offers his opinions about me as evidence," Colangelo wrote. "If he cites the facts, it would show clearly that I'm a core values commander."

The report alleges that, in 2010, Colangelo learned that another top commander had an affair with a subordinate more than a decade earlier but failed to fire him for that misconduct. It faulted Colangelo for allowing that brigadier general, who admitted an adulterous relationship with an enlistee, to remain in the Guard, then firing Stroud for "an issue of lesser regard."

Colangelo and Salazar agree that the investigator got a key fact wrong: Colangelo had no authority to fire the adulterous officer. Colangelo said he urged Salazar to terminate the officer, but his advice was not heeded. Salazar said he received no such recommendation.

In a letter to Salazar, Colangelo wrote: "Somehow you believe it makes sense that one of your general officers ... has an adulterous affair with an enlisted member of the 162nd FW (Fighter Wing), which is clear misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a senior commissioned officer, and you choose to retain him in late 2010. In fact, he is still a member of your primary staff."

In response to questions submitted by e-mail, Salazar said the alleged misconduct occurred nearly 15 years ago when the officer was not under his authority and did not hold a command position, so he took no action.

In mid-July, Colangelo sent a letter to Salazar complaining of betrayal and pleading with his boss, "Why won't you tell the truth?" A week later, Salazar sent a rebuttal letter to the Air Force secretary disputing the inspector general's findings and requesting reconsideration.

In that letter, Salazar acknowledged authorizing Colangelo to fire the Tucson officers and giving advance approval for those decisions. He said he did not believe Colangelo retaliated or abused authority. He disagreed with the claim that fraternization in the 1990s was more serious than sexual harassment in 2010.

"I do not understand why the IO (investigating officer) came to the conclusions he did," Salazar wrote, "but I also do not know who was interviewed or what supporting or additional information was available."

Salazar's only criticism of Colangelo concerned the accusatory tone used to suggest that the Air Force investigator conducted a bogus investigation to reach preordained conclusions.

The inspector general's response: "We find no compelling basis for reversing the investigation's conclusions."

Plea to governor

Personnel records supplied to The Republic show Salazar recommended a promotion for Colangelo last year, praising his disciplinary actions and calling him "my strongest, most experienced general officer."

Yet, after the inspector general's report was issued, Salazar reprimanded Colangelo for conduct that "caused the Secretary of the Air Force to challenge the integrity of this command and calls into question your professional judgment and potential for future service."

Salazar told The Republic he felt compelled to issue a reprimand because word of inspector-general sanctions spread throughout the Arizona National Guard and no disciplinary action had been taken. "To ignore these findings would have been extremely detrimental to good order and discipline," he added.

Inspector-general reports may not be appealed, but disciplinary actions may be challenged. By issuing a reprimand, Salazar said, he gave Colangelo a forum to challenge the findings against him.

But Colangelo said he was a scapegoat. In one letter to Salazar, he wrote, "You have handed them my head by issuing me a LOR (letter of reprimand) that you knew to be false."

Last month, Colangelo asked the governor to reinstate him. Brewer declined to intercede and did not respond to an interview request from The Republic.

Colangelo is now seeking assistance from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. A spokesman in the congressman's office declined to comment.

FBI agents bust man for another bomb plot they created!!!

I guess there are not any REAL terrorists in the USA. The only busts I remember posting on these listservers and on my web pages were bomb plots that the FBI created and suckered some Arab or Muslim guy into getting involved with.

I think the FBI should stop wasting their time and our tax dollars creating bomb plots and go out and hunt down some real criminals.


Chicago car bomb plot thwarted; man charged

by Jason Keyser - Sept. 15, 2012 03:42 PM

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Undercover FBI agents arrested an 18-year-old American man who tried to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar, federal prosecutors said Saturday.

Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested Friday night in an undercover operation in which agents pretending to be extremists provided him with a phony car bomb.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago announced the arrest Saturday and said the device was inert and that the public was never at risk.

Daoud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.

The FBI began monitoring him after he allegedly posted material online about violent jihad and the killing of Americans, federal prosecutors said.

In May, two undercover FBI employees contacted Daoud in response to the material and exchanged several electronic messages with him in which he expressed an interest in engaging in violent jihad in the United States or abroad, according to an affidavit.

Prosecutors say that after being introduced to an undercover FBI agent who claimed to be a terrorist living in New York, Daoud set about identifying 29 potential targets, including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and tourist attractions in Chicago.


FBI: Operation tracking Chicago teen took months

Sept. 16, 2012 01:59 PM

Associated Press

HILLSIDE, Ill. -- The investigation started months ago, when the FBI noticed an email message: A man in the Chicago suburbs was using an account to distribute chatter about violent jihad and the killing of Americans.

Two undercover agents reached out and began to talk to him online. In May, they introduced him to another agent who claimed to be a terrorist living in New York.

The operation ended Friday night, an affidavit describing it says, when the man was arrested and accused of trying to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside of a Chicago bar. Prosecutors said an undercover agent gave Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, a phony car bomb and watched him press the trigger.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, which announced the arrest Saturday, said the device was harmless and the public was never at risk. Daoud, 18, is due to make an appearance in federal court Monday morning on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.

"We don't even know anything. We don't know that much. We know as little as you do," a woman who answered the phone at his home and identified herself as his sister, Hiba, said Saturday. "They're just accusations. ... We'd like to be left alone."

The FBI often uses similar tactics in counterterrorism investigations, deploying undercover agents to engage suspects in talk of terror plots and then provide fake explosive devices.

In 2010, a Lebanese immigrant took what he thought was a bomb and dropped it into a trash bin near Chicago's Wrigley Field. In a 2009 case, agents provided a Jordanian man with a fake truck bomb that he used to try to blow up a 60-story office tower in Dallas.

This operation unfolded much like the others. After Daoud began talking to the undercover agents, an affidavit says, the third agent and Daoud met six times in the suburb of Villa Park over the summer and exchanged messages. Daoud then set about identifying 29 potential targets, including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and tourist attractions in Chicago, the document said.

After he settled on a downtown bar, he conducted surveillance on it by using Google Street View and visiting the area in person to take photographs, the affidavit said. The document does not identify the bar, but says he told the agent it was also a concert venue by a liquor store.

"It's a bar, it's a liquor store, it's a concert. All in one bundle," the document quotes him as saying. It said he noted the bar would be filled with the "evilest people ... kuffars." Kuffar is the Arabic term for non-believer.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, the affidavit said, Daoud met with the undercover agent in Villa Park and they drove to downtown Chicago, where the restaurants and bars were packed. They entered a parking lot where a Jeep Cherokee containing the phony bomb was parked, the document says.

Daoud drove the vehicle and parked it in front of the bar, then walked a block away and attempted to detonate the device by pressing a triggering mechanism, the affidavit says. He was then arrested.

A neighbor, Harry Pappas, said that a dozen unmarked cars drove up to the family's house on Friday night and several agents went inside. On Saturday, no one answered the door of the family's two-story home, which had a well-kept garden in the yard and a basketball hoop in the driveway. The house faces a Lutheran church; a Greek Orthodox church also is nearby.

Pappas said he was shocked by the arrest, calling Daoud's parents "wonderful" people.

Prosecutors said Daoud was offered several chances to change his mind and walk away from the plot.

The affidavit said Daoud was active in jihadist Internet forums and was accessing articles written by Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric who became a key figure in the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year.

The FBI says he also was searching online for information on making bombs and reading "Inspire," the English-language online magazine published by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

In his conversations with the undercover agent, Daoud explained his reasons for wanting to launch an attack, saying the United States was at war "with Islam and Muslims," the affidavit said.

According to the document, he said he was trying to recruit others and that he was confronted by leaders of his mosque who warned he should stop talking about jihad. The affidavit said Daoud's father also had been informed that Daoud was debating jihad and told Daoud to stop talking about it.

Daoud also told the agent he wanted an attack that would kill many people, the document said.

"I want something that's gonna make it in the news," he said, according to the affidavit. "I want to get to like, for me I want to get the most evil place, but I want to get a more populated place."

Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

Part I

Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

The American government has enough f*cking A bombs to kill everybody on the planet 20 times over, why do we need to spend more f*cking money on A bombs????

OK, I'm sorry, it's a jobs program for the generals and admirals in the US military and a government welfare program for the corporations in the military industrial complex. I guess that is why!!!

Or as H. L. Mencken says:

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

By Dana Priest, Published: September 15

The U.S. nuclear arsenal, the most powerful but indiscriminate class of weapons ever created, is set to undergo the costliest overhaul in its history, even as the military faces spending cuts to its conventional arms programs at a time of fiscal crisis.

For two decades, U.S. administrations have confronted the decrepit, neglected state of the aging nuclear weapons complex. Yet officials have repeatedly put off sinking huge sums into projects that receive little public recognition, driving up the costs even further.

Now, as the nation struggles to emerge from the worst recession of the postwar era and Congress faces an end-of-year deadline to avoid $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to the federal budget over 10 years, the Obama administration is overseeing the gargantuan task of modernizing the nuclear arsenal to keep it safe and reliable.

There is no official price tag for the effort to upgrade and maintain the 5,113 warheads in the inventory, to replace old delivery systems and to renovate the aging facilities where nuclear work is performed. A study this summer by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, estimated costs would be at least $352 billion over the coming decade to operate and modernize the current arsenal. Others say the figure could be far higher, particularly if the work is delayed even longer.

The timing does not fit with the nation’s evolving defense posture, either. Over the past decade, the U.S. military has moved away from nuclear deterrence and major military interventions in favor of more precise tactics rooted in Special Operations forces and quick tactical strikes deemed more effective against today’s enemies.

Federal officials and many outside analysts are nonetheless convinced that, after years of delay, the government must invest huge sums if it is to maintain the air, sea and land nuclear triad on which the country has relied since the start of the Cold War. Failing to act before the end of next year, they say, is likely to mean that there won’t be enough time to design and build the new systems that would be required if the old arsenal is no longer safe or reliable.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I haven’t seen a moment like this,” Thomas P. D’Agostino, who leads the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the federal agency charged with managing the safety of the nuclear arsenal, said in an interview.

The debate over the future of the nation’s nuclear arsenal is playing out in Congress and within the administration. Public reports, interviews with government officials and outside experts and visits to nuclear facilities rarely seen by outsiders provided a portrait of the scope and cost of maintaining and refurbishing the nuclear stockpile underlying the debate.

Expense has loomed for years

At the heart of the overhaul are the weapons themselves. Renovating nuclear bombs and missiles to keep them safe and ready for use will cost tens of billions of dollars. Upgrading just one of the seven types of weapons in the stockpile, the B61 bomb, is likely to cost $10 billion over five years, according to the Pentagon. The next two types of bombs in line for modification are estimated to cost a total of at least $5 billion. By comparison, the operating budget for Fairfax County government next year will cost about $3.5 billion, including its vaunted school system.

Replacing the aircraft, submarines and ground-launch systems that carry nuclear payloads will be the most expensive budget item. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost up to $110 billion to build 12 replacements for the aging Ohio-class submarines first launched in the 1980s. The Minuteman III ballistic missiles are undergoing a $7 billion upgrade even as a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles is under consideration. Meanwhile, a nuclear-capable fleet of F-35 strike aircraft is being built to replace existing aircraft at a cost of $162 million an airplane.

Finally, there are the buildings and laboratories where the refurbishment of weapons and development of new technologies take place. Modernizing those facilities is expected to cost at least $88 billion over 10 years, according to the NNSA, which is part of the Department of Energy.

The need to spend heavily to modernize the nation’s shrinking nuclear stockpile has been apparent for at least two decades. President George H.W. Bush reduced the stockpile by nearly 40 percent and imposed a ban on nuclear testing. President Bill Clinton extended the ban while reaffirming the importance of maintaining the arsenal’s safety and performance.

President George W. Bush came into office in 2001 planning to shrink and modernize the vast and deteriorating nuclear complex. Although he cut the stockpile by almost 50 percent and made some progress on renovating the complex, the effort was largely derailed by the costs and complications of two wars. All the while, the backlog of urgent repairs accumulated, and the hidden costs increased steadily.

To catch up, the Obama administration’s budget for refurbishing the nuclear stockpile went from $6.4 billion in 2010 to a $7.5 billion request for next year — a 17 percent increase at a time of budget constraints. To help pay the bills, this year the Defense Department agreed for the first time to contribute $8 billion over five years.

“We came in thinking it had been taken care of and were shocked to hear how poorly it had been treated,” said Jon Wolfsthal, who worked on nuclear weapons issues for the Obama White House until March.

While the administration was surprised by the state of the stockpile, the decision to spend heavily on modernization was also driven by a deal cut with Senate Republicans in late 2010. As part of negotiations to win ratification of the New START accord and reduce the nuclear weapons maintained by the United States and Russia, the administration agreed to increase money for modernizing the nuclear-weapons complex. Some Republicans say the administration isn’t spending enough.

Los Alamos in disrepair

Situated on a remote mesa in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory was built secretly in early 1943 for the sole purpose of designing and building America’s first atomic bomb. In the decades since, the lab has emerged as one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons design and research facilities, with 11,000 employees.

But parts of Los Alamos are in serious disrepair. Inside one critical building, pipes carrying dangerous wastewater are duct-taped together at the joints to plug leaks; plastic bags have been wrapped around the tape to trap seepage.

The building, called Wing 5, is part of the 50-year-old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research plant, which performs research on plutonium cores, the explosive “pits” for nuclear weapons. Sometimes liquid accidentally splashes under the ill-fitting doors and spills into the hallway, Bret Knapp, who heads the lab’s weapons program, said during a rare visit by an outsider. When a spill occurs, the building must be evacuated until inspectors can make sure that the liquid is not radioactive.

On other occasions, when the lights in the dilapidated structure flicker, electricians struggling to restore power pry open dozens of fuse boxes and expose brittle wiring far out of compliance with modern building codes.

The aging facility was slated for replacement 20 years ago. But in 1998, designers identified a fault line beneath the structure. The discovery pushed the price of reconstruction so high that no administration was willing to sign off. The Obama administration says safety requires its replacement — at a cost of $6 billion. Critics in Congress and among anti-nuclear groups, however, say the expensive new plant is unnecessary and would still present environmental dangers if built on the fault line.

The metallurgy facility at Los Alamos isn’t even the most pressing example of neglect and deterioration among the 40 buildings nationwide that the NNSA says need repair. That dubious honor goes to Building 9212, a uranium-processing facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Known in its heyday as the “Secret City,” Y-12 produced highly enriched uranium for “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Today, Y-12 is the primary facility for processing and storing weapons-grade uranium and developing related technologies.

The 150-acre complex was in the news in late July when three peace activists, including an 82-year-old nun, cut the outer security fence, slipped past the perimeter and reached a building where highly enriched uranium is stored. They splashed blood on the outer walls and carried banners denouncing nuclear weapons. Though they never got inside the facility, the incident sparked a two-week shutdown at the plant and a security review across the nuclear complex. Several officials have been fired or reassigned.

Nearby is Building 9212. Protected by layers of razor wire two stories high and monitored by surveillance cameras and motion sensors, technicians inside process enriched uranium for civilian and naval nuclear reactors. Armed guards greet the few authorized visitors allowed into the structure.

The operations inside Building 9212 are deemed so vital that an unplanned shutdown could cause critical problems across the nuclear supply chain. An extended stoppage would disrupt the weapons safety work and could force the closing of domestic and foreign civilian reactors that rely on low-enriched uranium from the facility, according to the NNSA.

No reporter had been allowed inside Building 9212 before The Washington Post’s visit. Because of the radioactivity, visitors and workers must wear multiple pairs of yellow rubber gloves, socks and booties, an overcoat, goggles, a head covering and thermoluminescent dosimeters that measure possible radiation exposure.

Conditions inside belie the significance of the work and the danger of the radioactive material.

The building is made of clay tile and cinder blocks and looks its age. Darrel Kohlhorst, the general manager at the time, pointed out large patches of rust and corrosion on interior walls. He said the walls and roof leak when it rains.

“If water hits the floor, we treat it like a contaminated spill,” he said, adding that workers must mop the floors three times a day — and incinerate the mop heads afterward.

The floors themselves are stainless-steel panels bolted together at thick seams. With age, they have become uneven and warped. Control panels resemble props on a 1950s sci-fi movie set, with oversize black-and-white dials and big red “start” and “stop” buttons.

Plant officials said the outdated equipment has not caused a major safety problem only because they halt operations even when minor things go wrong. For instance, when one of the giant, half-century-old exhaust fans goes on the blink, the repair time idles 30 people “for a $15 part,” said Daniel Hoag, then deputy manager of Y-12. Two years ago, the vacuum system that keeps air flowing broke down, and the facility was closed for two weeks.

Nuclear experts say the building should have been replaced years ago. But successive administrations decided to fund less costly renovations and purely scientific endeavors instead. In the meantime, the replacement cost has risen from $600 million in 2004 to $6.5 billion today.

Explaining the huge increase, NNSA spokesman Joshua McConaha said that initial cost estimates are always “speculative” and that final figures can’t be determined until most of the design work is finished.

Other factors push up costs. These nuclear facilities are one-of-a-kind plants, and the expertise and equipment needed to build them often doesn’t exist anymore, so it has to be invented.

“We’re facing questions that have never been asked or answered, and we’re doing it 20 years after the urgency of the Cold War,” McConaha said. “We’re building rare, incredibly complex nuclear facilities that nobody has had to build in decades.”

Some 640 people are designing the new uranium processing plant at Y-12. It will use 10 experimental technologies still being invented. There will be elaborate air filtration systems, duplicative electrical and fire control systems, redundant security barriers, earthquake-proof concrete floors and impenetrable vaults — all required to maintain and work with highly radioactive material.

The construction requirements for new nuclear facilities can be seen not far from the 9212 site. The storage facility for highly enriched uranium where the July break-in occurred was completed in 2010 with 90,000 square feet of concrete. Its walls are 30 feet thick and two stories tall, with hidden gun ports. Inside the concrete box, every scrap of radioactive waste is carried to its eventual tomb by a series of mechanical arms and lifts requiring no human touch. Databases and computers track every trace of radioactive material continuously in this paperless, sterile world.

Chronic poor planning

Much of the blame for the soaring costs has fallen on the National Nuclear Security Administration, the division of the Department of Energy responsible for managing and modernizing the nuclear stockpile. For years, the Government Accountability Office, the Pentagon and some lawmakers have cited the NNSA for chronic poor planning and bad management. The GAO has had the NNSA on its “high-risk list” for fraud, waste and abuse in contracting and management since 1990.

Government reports show that the NNSA has blown budgets across the board. For instance, the projected cost of a new weapons conversion facility at the DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina rose to $5 billion from $1.4 billion. It was eventually scrapped — after $700 million in planning costs. The cost of building a new fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River also has tripled to $5 billion, and it is scheduled to open in 2016, a decade late.

The George W. Bush administration’s solution to NNSA’s chronic problems was to transfer management of the national laboratories to profit-making corporations in 2008. Privatization was supposed to cut costs and boost efficiency, but GAO investigators and lawmakers say it is not clear that either has happened.

One concern is unexplained increases in administrative costs, which have reached about 40 percent of the labs’ budget, according to figures provided by NNSA. In fact, the annual contracts to run the facilities are among the largest in government — nearly $2.6 billion a year to operate Los Alamos and $2.4 billion for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

The Defense Department became so alarmed by NNSA’s construction record that it recently embedded a team at the agency to examine books and management practices and come up with more realistic cost figures for projects under consideration.

Republicans say they support increased spending on the nuclear arsenal, but last year they were unable to muster the votes to fund the president’s entire budget request. Some worry, though, that costs are out of hand. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces, said the NNSA management approach “perpetuates the status quo mentality that everything nuclear has to be expensive.”

Nuclear Posture Review

In an April 2009 speech, President Obama outlined his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Acknowledging that his goal might not be accomplished in his lifetime, Obama laid out an agenda for forging new partnerships to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, ending production of fissile material for weapons and ratifying new treaties to reduce their numbers.

Since then, though, the president has taken few steps to implement his objective. On the contrary, his 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which lays out the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy, promised to maintain the triad of nuclear weapons favored by every president since Dwight Eisenhower.

In December 2010, the Senate approved ratification of the New START accord with Russia, which limits both sides to 1,550 warheads. But no progress has been made on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would curb development of new nuclear weapons and impose a permanent ban on nuclear tests by signatories.

Over the past year, the president has been calculating his next nuclear step. Civilian and military advisers have presented him with countless options as he sets more precise guidelines that military planners will translate into intricate targeting plans.

The White House declined to comment on the president’s strategic direction, but some government officials and outside experts said they believe he favors renewed talks with the Russians to drop the warhead total from 1,550 to 1,100. Few, however, expect any announcement until after the presidential election in November.

All of the president’s decisions, from the broad nuclear structure to the number of warheads and the top-secret target list, cascade through the nuclear establishment, affecting the types of weapons and delivery systems that must be available to meet the objectives.

For their part, many anti-nuclear activists favor disarmament by atrophy, which would mean not repairing or extending the life span of the current arsenal. For now, the administration and its supporters argue that the country must maintain its nuclear assets as long as other nations are nuclear-armed.

Still, a growing number of former senior administration officials from both parties argue that more substantial cuts would encourage nonnuclear states to abandon their nuclear ambitions, making the world safer from political miscalculations and saving money for defense items that are actually used.

Among the members of this eclectic group are former Reagan administration officials George Shultz, Robert “Bud” McFarlane and Frank Carlucci; Clinton’s former defense secretary William Perry and ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering; and retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Obama and a former commander of U.S. nuclear forces.

“There are a growing number of my peers on the uniformed military side, and especially among civilian analysts and those on the policy side,” who believe a smaller and more modern force is appropriate, Cartwright said in an interview. “What we have is way more than what we need.”

Spending limits

The nuclear arsenal has not entirely escaped cuts. To comply with the new Budget Control Act spending limits, the NNSA decided this year that it could not afford to replace both the crumbling plutonium testing facility at Los Alamos for $6 billion and the deteriorating uranium processing facility in Building 9212 at Oak Ridge for $6.5 billion.

The NNSA chose to rehab Building 9212 because there was no alternative site where the critical work carried out there could be performed.

So, after 250 contractors moved into Los Alamos last year and tractors dug out 160,000 cubic feet of volcanic tuff rock from the side of a hill, NNSA and the administration decided that building a new plutonium-testing site would be delayed five years. The crews stopped work. The tractors were idled. A new reality sank in.

That new reality means some of the plutonium will be shipped to other facilities. Every couple of days, a UPS truck will deliver a dime-size slice of plutonium to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 45 miles east of San Francisco. Larger quantities of plutonium will be carried by secure vans to the Nevada National Security Site northwest of Las Vegas. Plutonium remaining at Los Alamos will be hand-delivered via an underground tunnel from one building to another.

The tunnel is being upgraded, and renovations are underway at Livermore and the Nevada site to handle the plutonium. Officials estimate the changes in the three locations will cost an additional $650 million over the next five years.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

This is the first of a two-part series examining the condition of the United States’ nuclear arsenal and the cost of maintaining it as it ages.

Part II


The B61 bomb: A case study in costs and needs

By Dana Priest, Published: September 16

ALBUQUERQUE — On the outskirts of New Mexico’s largest city, a team of engineers at Sandia National Laboratories is engaged in a long-running treasure hunt to make sure the oldest weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal, the B61 bomb, remains safe for deployment.

They cannibalize spare B61s for parts, such as the vacuum tubes needed to keep the radars working on active bombs. If they don’t have spares, they track down outdated machines to manufacture the components themselves, as they did when they bought a machine to produce integrated circuits. [I have read other articles that say there are companies that specialize in making obsolete transistors and other semiconductors used in the defense industry. This is the first time I have read about obsolete vacuum tubes needing to be stockpiled]

But after the manufacturer of the circuits went bankrupt and its machines were no longer available, the Sandia engineers had to become even more innovative.

“We bought three or four on eBay,” Gilbert Herrera, who manages Sandia’s microsystems research and facilities, said as he stood on the work floor recently. “For $100,000 apiece.”

The B61 was once heralded as a cornerstone of the country’s air-delivered nuclear force. Developed as a major deterrent against Soviet aggression in Europe, it is a slender gray cylinder that weighs 700 pounds and is 11 feet long and 13 inches in diameter. It can be delivered by a variety of aircraft, including NATO planes, anywhere in the world.

Now, nearly five decades after the first version rolled out of Los Alamos National Laboratory 100 miles north of here, age threatens to make the workhorse of the arsenal unreliable. So the B61 is poised to undergo a major renovation to extend its life span, a project that could cost as much as $10 billion, according to the Pentagon, or about $25 million for each of the 400 or so left in the arsenal.

The current estimate is more than double some early projections, so high that the Federation of American Scientists, a respected Washington disarmament think tank, dubbed it the “gold-plated nuclear bomb project.”

The Obama administration and Congress have pushed the program forward despite the enormous cost of refurbishing such complex weapons and over the strenuous objections of some nuclear strategists, who say the threat the B61 was designed to counter disappeared with the Cold War. Advocates, including the Obama administration, argue that the bomb is still essential to U.S. national security. In their view, the B61s deployed in Europe are the most concrete example of shared responsibility among the NATO countries, providing the indispensable psychological glue that binds the often-fractious alliance.

The B61s represent less than 10 percent of the 5,113 bombs and missiles that make up the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In the coming decade, updating vast elements of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex — from weapons to delivery systems to the labs and plants that make and test them — is expected to cost at least $352 billion, according to the Stimson Center, another nonpartisan Washington think tank.

Eighty percent of the stockpile’s bombs and missiles are scheduled for major renovations similar to those for the B61. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the complex, predicts that the work will take 25 years of intense effort by the country’s leading physicists, material scientists, engineers and computer programmers. The NNSA has not put a cost on the total weapons overhaul, but it is certain to top $20 billion, according to preliminary government figures.

The B61 provides a case study in the expense and innovations driving the ambitious effort to maintain the nation’s nuclear defenses at a time of fiscal constraints and a shift away from reliance on nuclear deterrence.

The most versatile in the stockpile

Sandia National Laboratories is the engineering center of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a sprawling collection of labs and warehouses at Kirtland Air Force Base on the eastern edge of Albuquerque. Sandia’s primary mission is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nuclear arsenal.

Inside one of those warehouses, on a gray-painted floor, sits a full-scale replica of the B61. The model is where young engineers and nuclear maintenance technicians learn to care for the aging weapon. A preflight control panel displays the commands that technicians are trained to carry out: “Delivery/Option/Delay” and “Strike Enable” to detonate the fearsome bomb.

The device looks simple, but its appearance is deceptive. Inside are 6,500 parts, making the bomb one of the most complex weapons in the arsenal. The firing mechanism alone has 400 components.

Built to withstand supersonic speeds, the B61 is the most versatile weapon in the stockpile. It can be carried long distances by a wide number of aircraft, from a B-2 stealth bomber flying from a base in Missouri to North Korea or China to an F-16 or Tornado jet fighter flying to Russia from a NATO base in Europe.

The versatility extends to the explosive power. Different variations produce different yields, the “dial-a-yield,” or DAY. Depending on the warhead, the president could choose an explosion slightly less powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945, or he could dial it up to a thermonuclear blast 30 times as strong.

The B61 can be dropped free-fall or with a parachute, detonated in the air or on the ground. Its Kevlar parachute, wrapped so tightly it is as hard as an oak tree’s trunk, can slow the bomb’s descent speed from 1,000 mph to 35 mph.

Five versions are still in service. The latest is the B61-11, activated in the mid-1990s as the only ground-penetrating nuclear weapon, known as the “bunker buster.” It is designed to reach hardened bunkers buried far underground and to detonate its nuclear payload on a time delay.

As the most modern version, the bunker buster will escape renovation. The other four models will be collapsed into a single version, an experiment never tried before, according to nuclear weapons experts.

Tight deadline for reinvention

Modernizing a nuclear weapon is not like upgrading any other machine. In the automobile industry, for example, cars are improved each year to reflect the latest technological advances and design changes. By contrast, few of the B61’s major components have been rebuilt to 21st-century, digital-age standards.

Most of the new components will not be replacements. They will be completely new, state-of-the-art versions, designed and built with equipment that did not even exist when the first iterations were turned out in the mid-1960s. “The entire arsenal was built with less computational power than what’s inside an iPhone,” one weapons manager said.

Arrays of supercomputers, advanced electronics and astonishingly detailed simulations will be used to renew the B61. The bombs will get new batteries, new neutron generators to ignite the thermonuclear explosion and new radar systems to signal when the bomb should detonate. New tail kits and special electronics will transform the B61 into the first precision-guided nuclear bomb, which means the designers can get rid of the parachute.

The first renovation must be completed within five years — a blink of an eye in the world of nuclear design and engineering — and all of them have to be done by 2022. If the work veers off schedule — something the Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon say they fear, given the NNSA’s record of delays and cost overruns — the life expectancy of the old bombs will expire and they will no longer be regarded as reliable.

Even if the work meets the deadline, the B61 faces an uncertain future outside the United States. Some NATO countries see nuclear weapons as the last remnant of the Cold War and face increasing calls from anti-nuclear and environmental groups to get them off their soil.

In Germany, popular support is growing for removing the B61s stationed at a German air force base near the village of Buchel in the western part of the country. Short of such a drastic step, the German government has not committed to paying for the expensive upgrades required to carry nuclear weapons when it replaces its aging fleet of Tornado aircraft with the new Eurofighter.

The plans of NATO allies are not the only threat to the B61. Some members of Congress have questioned the soaring cost of the redesign and the old bomb’s place in the modern arsenal.

Computer-simulated explosions

The B61 traces its lineage to the first nuclear test, which occurred on the morning of July 16, 1945, in the desert near Alamogordo, N.M. The detonation of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site took place less than three weeks before the bomb called Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, killing 70,000 people instantly and at least the same number from radiation exposure and injuries over the next five years.

In the years that followed, the United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests as it perfected and expanded its nuclear arsenal during the arms race with the Soviet Union. Hundreds of tests also were conducted by other nuclear powers, including the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China. President George H.W. Bush called a halt to U.S. nuclear tests in 1992. His decision was reaffirmed in 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The Senate rejected the treaty in 1999 and has not voted on it again, but the ban has remained in place. Russia, Britain and France are among the 36 countries that have ratified the treaty.

Without the ability to test, the United States still must guarantee that its arsenal is reliable and safe. So nuclear physicists and computer engineers have turned to mimicking nuclear explosions through some of the world’s most sophisticated computer simulations.

The virtual tests occur at the Los Alamos laboratory. From a glass-enclosed viewing room, a visitor can see supercomputers with 32,000 processors lined up in a vast, sterile room. Together, the machines can run 1.35 petaflops of data per second — a single petaflop is the equivalent of a million billion calculations. Lab officials said it takes programmers six months just to write the code to create a simulation of that magnitude. And the supercomputers and processors need an additional three weeks of churning 24 hours a day every day to process the code, even at petaflop speed.

The best view of this miracle of engineering and science is from inside what programmers call the “cave,” an array of high-resolution monitors in X Division, the weapons-design section at Los Alamos. The results are mind-boggling in their detail and precision, a true-to-life simulation that allows scientists to test the properties of materials and components used in a thermonuclear weapon without actually detonating a device.

Wearing three-dimensional glasses and standing on the cave floor, the rare outsider can watch animations that don’t just look like a missile hitting a wall and crumpling, but depict the actual way a missile hitting a wall would crumple, down to the molecular level of the metals used in the missile’s nose cone, body and tail fins.

Another simulation, restricted to personnel with only the highest security clearances, re-creates the reaction inside the thermonuclear explosive package of a warhead. It shows the signal sent to the detonator and the detonation of high explosives that trigger the critical mass. The trigger ignites the primary radioactive plutonium component, which in turn sets off the secondary uranium device, which in turn dramatically increases the power of the blast.

The advances in computer simulations, combined with the data from actual past tests, have allowed scientists to understand more about the physical attributes of nuclear weapons than the scientists who invented them. Now, they say, this knowledge will allow them to add 20 years to the quiet life of the B61. But not more.

Staggering sums

All of this modernization and invention requires staggering sums, time and testing. Twenty-eight teams of scientists and engineers at Los Alamos and Sandia determined what would be required in terms of new technology to update the B61 — and how much it would cost.

In the fall of 2011, a little-known interagency group called the Nuclear Weapons Council gathered in Washington to hear the results of the project. The council coordinates work by the NNSA and Pentagon on nuclear weapons and must approve any technical changes. Its members include senior officials from the Defense Department and the Energy Department and the head of the NNSA.

When the group gathered a year ago and first heard the new price tag for the B61, there was stunned silence even in a roomful of people accustomed to dealing with billions of dollars. “It was the trigger that sucked all the air out of the room,” one participant said.

The cost was $7 billion for an estimated 400 bombs. [Hey, that's a measly $17.5 million for each bomb. Well at least before the usual cost overruns which could increase that cost by a factor of 10] The explanation was that it had climbed so high in part because designers had added more safety features to an already nearly foolproof bomb, namely an optical scanner that required a retina scan from authorized personnel. Eventually the scanner and some other new equipment were dropped to save money, cutting the cost to $6 billion.

But recently, an independent Pentagon assessment concluded the cost would actually be much higher — at least $8 billion and possibly as high as $10 billion, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, which has funding jurisdiction over the NNSA. Officials at the agency say it is too early in the process to have an accurate budget figure for the program.

The soaring cost has rippled through other modernization programs. To try to keep the entire stockpile overhaul within budget, the administration delayed refurbishing two other aging warheads used on Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles by three years and pushed back construction of a new nuclear-armed submarine by two years.

In the complex matrix of repairs and deployments, the two-year delay in submarine modernization means that at some point in the near future, the nuclear-armed sub fleet patrolling the oceans will be reduced by two vessels for a period of time.

Each delay adds to the cost of maintaining the nuclear status quo. But the work goes on. An Air Force team with a $340 million budget is trying to figure out how to mount the B61 onto its new F-35 fighter jet, which itself is expected to be the most expensive weapon in U.S. history. And once the B61 overhaul is completed, the nation’s vast nuclear weapons complex will turn its attention to the next major weapons renovations: the W78 and W88, a pair of thermonuclear warheads whose redo is already predicted to cost at least $5 billion more.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Afghanistan setbacks mark end of U.S. 'surge'

I thought Obama was winning his little war in Afghanistan???

Didn't they also tell us we won the wars in Iraq and Vietnam???


Afghanistan setbacks mark end of U.S. 'surge'

68,000 American troops still left in Afghanistan

by Robert Burns - Sept. 17, 2012 10:43 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The end game in Afghanistan is off to a shaky start.

Just as the last U.S. "surge" troops leave the country, trouble is breaking out in ways that go to the core of the strategy for winding down the U.S. and allied combat role and making Afghans responsible for their own security. At stake is the goal of ensuring that Afghanistan not revert to being a terrorist haven.

Nearly two years after President Barack Obama announced that he was sending another 33,000 troops to take on the Taliban, those reinforcements are completing their return to the United States this week. That leaves about 68,000 American troops, along with their NATO allies and Afghan partners, to carry out an ambitious plan to put the Afghans fully in the combat lead as early as next year.

But the setbacks are piling up: a spasm of deadly attacks on U.S. and NATO forces by Afghan soldiers and police, including three attacks in the last three days; an audacious Taliban assault on a coalition air base that killed two Marines and destroyed six fighter jets; and a NATO airstrike that inadvertently killed eight Afghan women and girls.

Tensions over the anti-Islam movie produced in the U.S. that ridicules the Prophet Mohammad also spread to Kabul, where demonstrations turned violent Monday when protesters burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base.

Taliban still a force

Those events help the Taliban's aim of driving a wedge between the Americans and their Afghan partners. They also show that the Taliban, while weakened, remains a force to be reckoned with, 11 years after the first U.S. troops arrived to drive the Taliban out.

The extra troops began moving into Afghanistan in early 2010, pushing the total U.S. force to a peak of 101,000 by mid-2011.

The U.S. troop surge was supposed to put so much military pressure on the Taliban that its leaders -- most of whom are in Pakistan -- would feel compelled to come to the peace table. That hasn't happened. Preliminary contacts began, but have been stymied.

When he announced his decision in December 2009 to send the 33,000 extra troops, Obama said it was aimed at seizing the initiative in a war that was "not lost, but for several years ... has moved backwards."

Battlefield momentum was regained but doubts persist about how long-lasting the progress will prove to be.

Even more fundamentally, troubling is piling up so rapidly that some analysts wonder where it will lead.

"We've had this series of unfortunate events, the grand total of which it's really hard to read in any remotely positive manner," said Douglas Ollivant, a former Army officer who served in Iraq during the 2007-08 American troop surge and in 2010-11 was the senior counterinsurgency adviser to the U.S. commander of the eastern sector of Afghanistan. He is now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a think tank.

Worries about Afghan soldiers and police turning their guns on their U.S. and allied partners have reached the point where Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander there, directed lower-level commanders on Sunday to review security protections and to limit some partnered operations with the Afghans temporarily.

But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta struck a different tone by saying Monday that the insider attacks are a "last gasp" by a weakened Taliban.

NATO scales back Afghan partnering

NATO said Monday that it has scaled back operations with Afghan soldiers and policemen to lower the risk of insider attacks and reduce local tensions over an anti-Islam video that prompted protests in Afghanistan.

It's the second order that curbs contact between foreign troops and their Afghan partners, undermining the mantra that both sides are fighting the Taliban "shoulder to shoulder." The directive could jeopardize the U.S.-led coalition's key goal to get Afghan forces ready to take over security from foreign forces by the end of 2014 -- just 27 months from now.

U.S. troops ordered to make major reduction in joint operations with Afghan forces

You mean we are not winning the war in Afghanistan???


U.S. troops ordered to make major reduction in joint operations with Afghan forces

KABUL — U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been ordered to significantly scale back operations with Afghan military and police forces after a spike in fratricidal “insider attacks” that has seriously undermined U.S. trust in their local allies.

The decision, officials said Tuesday, is also linked to concerns that American field troops have become more vulnerable to attacks because of Muslim outrage over a controversial anti-Islam video.

The orders from Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, represent a major shift from the long-stated U.S. philosophy that American and NATO troops are here to work “shoulder to shoulder” with their Afghan partners.

The fundamental U.S. strategy is to prepare some 350,000 Afghan forces to take over the country’s security by the end of 2014 so that the United States can pull out its combat troops.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he was concerned by the ongoing treacherous attacks by Afghan forces on their U.S. and NATO counterparts, in which 51 foreign troops have died so far this year. But he downplayed suggestions that the U.S. strategy for withdrawing from Afghanistan would be hampered by the decision by U.S. commanders to sharply limit training and joint operations.

“We are concerned with regards to these inside attacks and the impact they are having on our forces,” Panetta told reporters in Beijing after meeting with Gen. Liang Guanglie, China’s defense minister.

“I rely on General Allen to take the steps that he believes are necessary to protect our forces, and at the same time I remain convinced that General Allen will continue to pursue efforts to implement the plan he has put in place so that we can complete the transition to Afghan security and governance and complete our drawdown by the end of 2014.”

The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement Tuesday that “most partnering and advising” would now be done at the battalion level and above. Lower-level joint operations will be “evaluated on a case-by-case basis” and must be approved by regional commanders.

As the morale-sapping insider attacks on the troops have escalated over the past two months, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Sunday described them as “a very serious threat” to the war effort.

Over the weekend, six international troops — four Americans and two Britons — died after Afghan forces opened fire on them, bringing the death toll in such attacks to 109 since 2007, when the phenomenon began. The shootings are also called “green on blue” to reflect the military’s designation of Afghan government forces as green and foreign allied forces as blue.

Although military officials have said it is too soon to tell whether the inflammatory “Innocence of Muslims” video has sparked an increase in shootings, an earlier statement from the coalition pointed to the video as one impetus for the new orders.

“Recent events outside of and inside Afghanistan related to the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video, plus the conduct of recent insider attacks, have given cause for ISAF troops to exercise increased vigilance and carefully review all activities and interactions with the local population,” the coalition said.

It called the suspension of joint patrols and other ground-level activities “prudent but necessary.”

Allen on Sunday ordered commanders “to review force protection and tactical activities,” the Pentagon said. NATO spokesmen here have said Afghan leaders recommended the orders.

The orders are the second measure aimed at reducing insider attacks. U.S. Special Forces, which partners with local police in towns and villages, suspended training of 1,000 police recruits pending a new vetting of the existing 16,000- member forces.

Although the attacks have caused friction between U.S. and Afghan troops, Panetta said they were not an indication that the Taliban was gaining momentum in the war.

“I don’t think that these attacks indicate that the Taliban is stronger,” he said. “I think what it indicates is that they’re resorting to efforts that try to strike at our forces, try to create chaos, but do not in any way result in their regaining territory.”

In many parts of the country, all U.S. troops had been told to work only in partnership with Afghan forces, meaning there were no independent U.S. operations, just those with the Afghans in the lead and the Americans supporting them.

By suspending the integration of smaller units such as squads, platoons and companies, NATO is likely to create logistical and other problems for Afghan forces, said one Afghan general in southern Helmand province.

“It will be really difficult for us to conduct any operation without the NATO troops’ presence on the ground because we really need them,” said the general, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Malok.

He said field decisions now have to go through a coordination center that relays requests up the ranks, precipitating delays.

“Last week, our forces got killed and wounded in a land mine explosion ... and we urgently needed NATO’s help. I had to contact the coordination center first, and it took three hours for the medical evacuation helicopters to bring the soldiers to the hospital. It used to take them only one hour.”

But Gen. Abdul Raziq, a brigade commander in southwestern Logar province, said he supports the decision.

“Even if they are not with us on the ground, we do have their air support,” Raziq said. Because of that overhead firepower, he said, his current operation against the Taliban “is going very well.”

Some U.S. troops in the field complained over the weekend when the original guidance trickled down and some joint operations were abruptly halted.

In Wardak province, a restive area south of Kabul, for example, some commanders postponed several major operations for three days. Afghan army commanders in Wardak decided not to patrol without support from U.S. troops and canceled planned missions.

The decision to extend the pause in Wardak province’s Jaghato District to a third day came after some American and Afghan troops had already left on a pre-dawn operation Saturday. Afghan troops were given the option of continuing on the patrol into the enemy strongholds without U.S. support, but instead chose to return to their base.

“We look really bad to the Afghans right now,” said one platoon sergeant on the aborted patrol. “We are supposed to be supporting them, and we left them. This was a step backwards.”

Afghan soldiers and police in western Wardak were equally befuddled by the sudden U.S. decision to pull back.

“What happened with the [expletive] mission?” Jaghato District Police Chief Wahid Tanha asked his American counterparts after they had returned to their base Saturday morning. “Why didn’t you want to go?”

“You don’t understand. We wanted to go,” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Naylor responded. “Our higher headquarters told us to come back.”

The Afghan police chief, speaking in broken English, reiterated his confusion about the canceled mission.

“You not want to go,” he insisted.

Greg Jaffe reported from Jaghato, Afghanistan. Craig Whitlock reported from Beijing.

White House spokesman Jay Carney is a liar???

I think Hazel Barsamian is right about her statement on White House spokesman Jay Carney.

However I disagree with her on the cause of the problem.

I seriously doubt that the rest of the world has a "vile hatred of all things American".

If you ask me the real problem is the American foreign policy which has American military troops stationed in just about every country in the world, along with invading and bombing numerous other countries through out the world.

The problem is the American government is the worlds new "super bully" and as long as the American government continues to terrorize the rest of the world the rest of the world will hate us.

Sadly I am ashamed of the actions my government.


Apologizing to radicals

Sept. 18, 2012 12:00 AM

The statement by White House spokesman Jay Carney that the riots in Cairo and Libya are not directed against the United States, its policies, its president and people but against a movie, is ludicrous, insulting and offensive.

Do Carney and the president think we Americans are deaf and dumb?

It is obvious these riots were premeditated to coincide with Sept. 11. They were planned and executed by Islamist radicals. They clearly demonstrate a vile hatred of all things American.

This administration's foreign policy of apology and appeasement over the past three-plus years created the environment that led to these riots. I find the administration's response to the riots to be woefully inadequate and untruthful.

-- Hazel Barsamian,


Italy high court upholds convictions in CIA abductions

If you ask me this is great news.

But I wonder if Emperor Obama will invade Italy over this????


Italy high court upholds convictions in CIA abductions

Sept. 19, 2012 09:28 AM

Associated Press

ROME -- Italy's highest court has upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The ruling on Wednesday marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.

The 23 Americans all were convicted in absentia and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe.

Those convicted include the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, who was sentenced to nine years. The other 22 Americans were sentenced to seven-year terms.

U.S. scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Will Obama invade Libya to help him get reelected in 2012????


U.S. scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Sept. 15, 2012 12:31 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is sending more spies, Marines and drones to Libya, trying to speed the search for those who killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but the investigation is complicated by a chaotic security picture in the post-revolutionary country, and limited American and Libyan intelligence resources.

The CIA has fewer people available to send, stretched thin from tracking conflicts across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

And the Libyans have barely re-established full control of their country, much less rebuilt their intelligence service, less than a year after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.S. has already deployed an FBI investigation team, trying to track al-Qaida sympathizers thought to be responsible for turning a demonstration over an anti-Islamic video into a violent, coordinated militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three other embassy employees were killed after a barrage of small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars tore into the consulate buildings in Benghazi on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, setting the buildings on fire.

President Barack Obama said in a Rose Garden statement the morning after the attack that those responsible would be brought to justice. That may not be swift. Building a clearer picture of what happened will take more time, and possibly more people, U.S. officials said Friday.

Intelligence officials are reviewing telephone intercepts, computer traffic and other clues gathered in the days before the attacks, and Libyan law enforcement has made some arrests. But investigators have found no evidence pointing conclusively to a particular group or to indicate the attack was planned, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding, "This is obviously under investigation."

Early indications suggest the attack was carried out not by the main al-Qaida terror group but "al-Qaida sympathizers," said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

One of the leading suspects is the Libyan-based Islamic militant group Ansar al-Shariah, led by former Guantanamo detainee Sufyan bin Qumu. The group denied responsibility in a video Friday but did acknowledge its fighters were in the area during what it called a "popular protest" at the consulate, according to Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a private analysis firm that monitors Jihadist media for the U.S. intelligence community.

The U.S. had been watching threat assessments from Libya for months but none offered warnings of the Benghazi attack, according to another intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about U.S. intelligence matters.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, questioned whether the consulate had taken sufficient security measures, given an attempt to attack the consulate in Benghazi a few months ago.

Carney said that given the 9/11 anniversary, security had been heightened.

"It was, unfortunately, not enough," he said.

That paucity of resources also applies to the intelligence officers available to monitor Libya on the ground.

With ongoing counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, as well as the civil war in Syria, the CIA's clandestine and paramilitary officer corps is simply running out of trained officers to send, U.S. officials say, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deployment of intelligence personnel publicly. The clandestine service is roughly 5,000 officers strong, and the paramilitary corps sent to war zones is only in the hundreds, the officials said.

Most of the CIA's paramilitary team dispatched to Libya during the revolution had been sent onward to the Syrian border, the officials said.

The CIA normally hires extra people to make up for such shortfalls, often retired special operators with the requisite security clearance, military training and language ability. But the government mandate to slash contractor use has meant cutting contracts, according to two former officials familiar with the agency's current hiring practices.

To fill in the gaps in spies on the ground, the U.S. intelligence community has kept up surveillance over Libya with unmanned and largely unarmed Predator and Reaper drones, increasing the area they cover, and the frequency of their flights since the attack on the consulate, as well as sending more surveillance equipment to the region, one official said.

But intelligence gathered from the air still needs corroboration from sources on the ground, as well as someone to act on the intelligence to go after the targets.

The Libyan government, though it claims it is eager to help, has limited tools at its disposal. The post-revolution government has been slow to rebuild both its intelligence capability and its security services, fearful of empowering the very institutions they had to fight to overthrow Gadhafi. They have made a start, but they lack a sophisticated cadre of trained spies and a large network of informants.

"The Libyans in just about every endeavor are just learning to walk, let alone run," said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official and author of the book "Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy."

"There is confusion and competing elements within the new provisional government which complicates the task of creating new institutions, including the intelligence service," he said.

"There are still some aspects of the intelligence services that still work," says Barak Barfi of the New America Foundation think tank, including eavesdropping on cellphone calls and spying on computer traffic using equipment from the Gadhafi era. Barfi spent months with members of Libya's transitional government as they tried to rebuild the nation's services and infrastructure.

But the Libyans have not yet even taken full command their own security services almost a year after Gadhafi's fall, Barfi said. That's given the tens of thousands of militiamen who helped overthrow Gadhafi the time they needed to organize and seek new targets, especially Western ones, he said.

Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

Mug shot and arrest record extortions???

Here is an interesting article about a company that gets public records and photos of people that have been arrested, posts the public record and photos on the internet shaming the people, and then shakes the people down to pay a fee to get their photos and arrest record data removed from their web site.

Yes, it is certainly legal, but is it ethical?

And of course as the article says most of these arrests are not for real crimes that hurt people, but for victimless "drug war" crimes that didn't hurt anyone.

Ch*nga La Migra!!!

According to this article Illegal migrants across U.S. taking protests to defiant new level.

ACLU questions CIA's drone use


ACLU questions CIA's drone use

Case leaves judges questioning secretiveness

by Frederic J. Frommer - Sept. 20, 2012 10:49 PM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Federal appeals court judges Thursday questioned the CIA's efforts to block information on the use of unmanned drones to kill suspected terrorists.

A lower court federal judge sided with the CIA last year and dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking records about the use of drones. In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA had refused to confirm or deny the existence of responsive records.

At a hearing on its appeal of the lower court ruling, the ACLU told the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia that several high-ranking officials, from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta to President Barack Obama, have publicly acknowledged the use of drones.

The government has argued that such statements do not specifically refer to the CIA's involvement in drones.

But Judge Merrick Garland cited a speech this year by President Barack Obama's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, in which Brennan said the government targets terrorists with drones, and uses the "full range" of the government's intelligence capabilities.

"Isn't that an official acknowledgment that the CIA is involved with the drone program?" asked Garland, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general, said Brennan's statement wasn't sufficient to tie the drone program to the CIA because the intelligence community has 17 agencies.

Garland said that the government was asking the court to say "the emperor has clothes, even when the emperor's boss" says the emperor doesn't have clothes.

Judge David Tatel, another Clinton appointee, asked about a 2010 comment that Panetta made to ABC News when he was CIA director: "... the more we continue to disrupt al-Qaida's operations, and we are engaged in the most aggressive operations in the history of the CIA in that part of the world, and the result is that we are disrupting their leadership."

Delery replied that Panetta did not specifically mention drones.

Delery pointed to a declaration made in June by John Bennett, director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, in another FOIA case pending in New York City in which the ACLU is seeking information about the targeted killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen.

In that declaration, Bennett said that in light of speeches made by senior U.S. officials on the subject of killing al-Qaida leaders, the CIA conducted a search for records responsive to the ACLU's request in the New York case.

"Based on that search, it has determined that it can now publicly acknowledge that it possesses records responsive to the ACLU's FOIA request," he said.

But he said the spy agency can't provide the number, nature or categorization of those records without disclosing information protected under FOIA exemptions.

Delery said that the question of whether the CIA has documents on drones is "not where we're drawing the line."

ASU honored as ‘military friendly’ school

I think we need to do something about this.

It's morally wrong for ASU to help the government in it's illegal, unconstitutional and immoral wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


ASU honored as ‘military friendly’ school

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 5:27 pm


Arizona State University was named a 2013 Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine for the fourth consecutive year.

The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are leaders in providing educational support benefits and paths to success to military veterans.

Last year, ASU opened the Pat Tillman Veterans Center on the Tempe campus to connect veterans with academic support, as well as to assist with the certifying of educational benefits.

Veteran enrollment has risen to 1,727 students in 2012. There are currently 2,323 students at ASU who are receiving educational benefits, doubling the number since fall of 2009.

Mixing unions and government sucks.

OK, I am not a big union fan and I think unions pretty much suck period.

I don't have a problem with unions, or people unionizing to make their lives better. But sadly most unions use violence to extort money out of their employers and that is wrong.

Sadly one of the biggest unions in government are the police unions, and while they pretend to protect us from criminals, the police unions frequently commit crimes force the government to pay them more money and give them better working conditions.


Patterson: Public unions need to learn government doesn't have infinite resources

Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 7:30 am

Guest commentary by Tom Patterson

In 1980 William Clay, the president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers union (PATCO) told their convention that they must “learn the rules of the game,” which were “that you don’t put the interest of any other group ahead of your own.” They must be “selfish and pragmatic” and emphasize that “what’s good for the federal employees (is) good for the nation.”

PATCO ran into Ronald Reagan, a rare politician willing to stand up to them, and went out of business. But the nation’s air traffic controllers are still unionized and government employee unions are still operating under Mr. Clay’s rules of engagement. Their determination to put their own interests first mocks the notion of public servant. Instead of serving the public, they threaten our ability to fund anything other than their wishes.

In an earlier America, government unions were recognized as incompatible with public welfare. FDR in 1937 rejected government unionism, pointing out that collective bargaining “cannot be transported into the public service” because of “the very nature and purposes of government.” Roosevelt wasn’t breaking new ground here; he was expressing views widely held by American leaders including the founder of modern progressivism, Woodrow Wilson, and the resolutely conservative Calvin Coolidge.

How could we have been so foolish to reject the bright line between public and private sector unions these thinkers recognized? The difference is night and day. For starters, government workers own a monopoly on the services they provide, while private sector workers are unable to keep consumers hostage. They must be careful to keep their demands reasonable so that their employers aren’t priced out of the marketplace. For government workers there are no such boundaries. More is always better, there is no such thing as “enough.”

Government unions are also privileged in getting to pick the negotiators on the other side of the bargaining table. That’s why they’re the major financial supporters of the Democratic Party where teacher’s unions alone supply 20 percent of the national convention delegates. When both sides at the negotiating table are committed to union interests, the results are predictable. Government worker pay, once discounted for job security, is today about 30 percent higher than that earned by private sector workers for the same jobs.

Check out the Chicago Teachers Union to see the result of 50 years of public unionism. This is a union that delivers a terrible product for a financially failing entity. Just 20 percent of Chicago eighth-graders can pass a reading test, while fewer than 8 percent of 11th-graders are deemed college ready by a state test. Yet, Chicago teachers have received raises between 19 percent and 46 percent over the last five years, even though Chicago public schools are $3 billion in debt.

Chicago teachers average $76,000 in salary plus health benefits, pensions, paid days off and summer vacations. The taxpayers footing the bill earn an average of $47,000 annually. In the private sector, the company would be failing and employees would face job loss. The CTU’s response to this state of affairs? Demand even more pay raises and continue to resist efforts to weed out bad employees and provide higher-quality education.

Prior to this month’s strike, the union demanded a 30-percent pay raise over three years, but now seems willing to settle for only 16 percent. But the real point of contention was a plan by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to institute a teacher evaluation system, designed by teachers, that was more based on student academic progress.

Union president Karen Lewis put her foot down, insisting that 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs. The irony of admitting that so many teachers are non-performers was apparently lost on her. The union’s interest — job preservation for its members — must come first. And, in an election year, they mostly got their way.

FDR was right on this one. We never should have allowed collective bargaining to invade the public sphere and we shouldn’t have allowed public unions to amass huge war chests by extracting union dues from workers’ paychecks without their permission.

Now we’re in trouble. Bankruptcy, once unthinkable, is now a looming reality for local governments around the country unable to fund pension obligations to their retired workers. Even government doesn’t have infinite resources.

Drone strikes in Pakistan have killed many civilians


Drone strikes in Pakistan have killed many civilians, study says

By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

September 24, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged, a new study by human rights researchers at Stanford University and New York University contends.

The report, "Living Under Drones," also concludes that the classified CIA program has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against U.S. policy in the volatile region. It recommends that the Obama administration reevaluate the program to make it more transparent and accountable, and to prove compliance with international law.

"Real people are suffering real harm" but are largely ignored in government or news media discussions of drone attacks, said James Cavallaro of Stanford, one of the study's authors.

Cavallaro said the study was intended to challenge official accounts of the drones as precise instruments of high-tech warfare with few adverse consequences. The Obama administration has championed the use of remotely operated drones for killing senior Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, but the study concludes that only about 2% of drone casualties are top militant leaders.

The CIA and Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, declined to comment.

The report says 130 people were interviewed by researchers in Pakistan over a nine-month period, including 69 survivors or family members of victims. The interviews took place in Pakistan outside the dangerous tribal areas. The researchers relied on a Pakistani human rights group, Foundation for Fundamental Rights, to find interview subjects.

Allegations of large numbers of civilian deaths have dogged the drone effort in Pakistan since its inception in 2004 under President George W. Bush. Under President Obama, drone strikes have emerged as the core element of a U.S. strategy aimed at disrupting and eliminating the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas, where militants have taken refuge to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

The drone strikes have soured relations with Pakistan, which has complained about civilian deaths and infringements on its sovereignty. The Obama administration has said that drone strikes have killed few, if any, civilians.

The study authors did not estimate overall civilian casualties because of limited data, Cavallaro said. But it cites estimates by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has reported extensively on drone strikes, of 474 to 884 civilian deaths since 2004, including 176 children.

In April, Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, described civilian casualties from drone strikes as "exceedingly rare." [And I wonder what the definition of "exceedingly rare" is according to the Obama Administration? I bet it's a lot like the definition of sex that Clinton and Monica gave us] Brennan said the drone program has reduced danger to U.S. pilots, limited civilian casualties and helped prevent deeper U.S. military involvement overseas.

In January, Obama in effect acknowledged the drone program when he said the U.S. must be "judicious in how we use drones."

The Times reported in June that lawmakers from both parties who serve on congressional oversight committees are convinced the CIA takes great care to avert civilian casualties. The committee members said independent tallies, including those by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, are often based on local news reports that are wrong. Committee staffers review video and records associated with each strike.

Cavallaro said the report decided to give more credence to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report rather than an analysis by the Long War Journal, a website that monitors drone strikes, which estimated 138 civilians killed since 2006. The site relies too heavily on anonymous and Pakistani government sources, Cavallaro said.

The study challenges official versions of three attacks between 2009 and 2011, including a drone strike on March 17, 2011, that killed an estimated 42 people. The gathering was a jirga, a meeting of elders, called to settle a dispute over a chromite mine, the report says.

According to the report, most of those killed were civilians, including elders and auxiliary police. Only about four known members of a Taliban group attended, the study says, citing survivors and news accounts. U.S. officials insisted that all the dead were militants, the report says.

The authors recommend that the U.S. Justice Department publicly state the legal basis for targeted killings by drones and the criteria for "signature strikes," those authorized against armed men who fit the profile of militants. The report says the strikes violate international law because, in part, the government has not proved the targets are direct threats to the United States.


Times staff writer Ken Dilanian contributed to this report.

Phoenix police arrest man who filmed mock terrorist act


Don't these pigs have any REAL criminals to hunt down???

A link to the video


Phoenix police arrest man who filmed mock terrorist act

by Cecilia Chan - Sept. 25, 2012 08:37 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Phoenix police arrested a 39-year-old man Monday, who filmed a mock terrorist toting a fake rocket-propelled grenade launcher on the streets of northeast Phoenix.

Michael David Turley was arrested on suspicion of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, police said Tuesday.

Police are recommending charges against a 16-year-old boy, who donned a blue bed sheet and black head covering, in his role as the terrorist.

The youth, whose name was not released because he is a minor, has not been arrested, Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes said.

Police sent the recommendations against the teen to the Maricopa County Superior's Juvenile Court Center, including suspicion of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act and endangerment, Holmes said.

Turley, a self-described filmmaker, posted his video titled, "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test" on You Tube. The July 30 posting had scored 1,122 hits by Tuesday.

Turley began the short film July 28 to test how fast Phoenix police would react just eight days after the Aurora movie theater shooting in Colorado, he said in the video. A gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 others in that mass murder.

In the film, the 16-year-old actor has the rocket-propelled grenade hoisted on his shoulder as he darts about a busy intersection at 33rd Avenue and Bell Road on a Saturday afternoon.

Turley in a disguised voice comments in the film that it takes nearly 15 minutes from the time they were spotted to when police respond to the scene and that the response "was less than impressive."

Police said they received numerous 911 calls July 28 of a suspect pointing a gun, rifle or what appeared to be a rocket-propelled grenade at residents as they drove by.

Holmes said it took "just over three minutes from dispatch time to contact with (the) suspects."

The initial investigation revealed only that Turley and the 16-year-old were "making a movie" and a motive for the filming was not determined, police said.

Detectives later gathered evidence that indicated Turley's actions were designed to test police response to a terrorist situation, resulting in his arrest, police said.

Army general arrested on sex charges

I'm confused? Didn't we invade Iraq and Afghanistan so we could force Christianity on those infidel Muslims????

OK, so that was only the second issue. The real issue was to create a government welfare program for the corporations in the military industrial complex along with creating a jobs program for generals???


Army general arrested on sex charges

Sept. 26, 2012 12:38 PM

Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- An Army brigadier general has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with female subordinates while serving in Afghanistan, two U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.

The defense officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details on the case.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts martial on charges that include forced sex, possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed, and misusing a government travel charge card.

Sinclair, who served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, was sent home in May because of the allegations, the officials said. He had arrived in Afghanistan for his deployment in September 2011, but had been serving as the division's deputy commander since July 2010.

Sinclair, who has been in the Army for 27 years, was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan. He had also served one tour in Iraq, as well as tours in the first Gulf war.

Army officials have scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The charges were first reported by the Fayetteville Observer.

The Afghan Surge Is Over

Whoopee!!! We won the war in Afghanistan!!!!

Well at least that's what Emperor Obama says.

I suspect our victory in Afghanistan will be pretty much like our victories in Iraq and Vietnam. Anywhere from a few days to a few months after the American troops leave, the puppet governments the America Empire installed will collapse.


The Afghan Surge Is Over

So did it work?


The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended last week. You'd be forgiven if you didn't notice. There was no proclamation of success from the White House, no fanfare at the Pentagon, no public expression of gratitude from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. It fell to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was traveling in New Zealand, to announce that the last of the 33,000 surge troops, dispatched by President Obama in late 2009 at the behest of his military commanders, had left Afghanistan.

In stating that U.S. troop levels had dropped to 68,000, Panetta told reporters traveling with him that "this is an opportunity to recognize that the surge did accomplish its objectives." A few days earlier, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, stated that the surge was "an effort that was worth the cost."

Are they right? In my new book, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, I explore what really happened over there -- and in Washington -- after Obama decided to surge. The real story of the surge cannot be reduced down to a soundbite. It exacted a significant cost on the United States -- in lives, limbs, and dollars. Sure, the surge did have some positive impacts: The Taliban were pushed out of large stretches of southern Afghanistan, the influx of U.S. resources accelerated the development of the Afghan security forces, and the billions that were poured into the country in the name of reconstruction did provide short-term employment to thousands of young men. But did the surge really achieve its objectives? And were the gains worth the cost?

The now-retired commanders who pressed Obama to surge in 2009 -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus, and Adm. Mike Mullen -- all insisted at the time that more troops, coupled with a protect-the-population counterinsurgency strategy, would have a good chance of turning around a failing war. They believed a surge had saved Iraq, despite strong evidence that the reasons for the improvements in security there were far more complex. In Afghanistan, they argued, the additional troops would allow the military to protect key parts of the south from Taliban advances; once that mission was completed, they would swing east to pacify areas around Kabul. The surge force also would provide a valuable opportunity to expand the Afghan army, disburse reconstruction assistance and create -- in conjunction with the State Department -- local governments in places were there had been very little government influence, reasoning that generating Afghan-led security and an indigenous civil administration would convince people to stop supporting the insurgency.

All of this nation-building was intended to accomplish a very narrow goal set by Obama: "To disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda" in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It did not matter much to the generals that most of al Qaeda's remaining core was in Pakistan, where it could -- and would -- be targeted with drones. The commanders insisted that they needed to beat back the Taliban because, if they returned to power, they would once again be able to provide sanctuary to al Qaeda operatives.

For the surge and its accompanying countersurgency strategy to prevail in Afghanistan, four main things needed to occur: The Afghan government had to be a willing partner, the Pakistani government had to crack down on insurgent sanctuaries on its soil, the Afghan army had to be ready and willing to assume control of areas that had been cleared of insurgents by American troops, and the Americans had to be willing to commit troops and money for years on end.

Did all of that happen? Let's examine them one by one:

1. Karzai never agreed with America's war strategy. U.S. officers and diplomats argue that tribal rivalries, an inequitable distribution of power at the local level, and the government's failure to provide even the most basic services are all factors pushing many Afghans into the Taliban's arms. Back in 2009 and 2010, they believed the remedy was a comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign. But in Karzai's eyes, the principal problem was and still is the infiltration of militants from Pakistan -- not the corruption and malfeasance of his government -- and he has long wanted U.S. and NATO forces to focus on the border. By mucking around in the districts of Kandahar and Helmand, the United States and its coalition partners were disrupting what he believed was a natural system of self-regulating Pashtun governance. Through all of his flare-ups, Karzai "is sending us a message," a senior U.S. military official told me. "And that message is 'I don't believe in counterinsurgency.

2. Pakistan failed to meaningfully pursue Afghan Taliban. After the Taliban leadership relocated to Pakistan in late 2001, they were provided safe harbor by Pakistan's spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate. Talibs were allowed to meet and reorganize and even reestablish networks inside Afghanistan, but the Pakistani spies initially refrained from giving them overt assistance. Although ISI officials regularly met with a handful of senior Talib mullahs, Taliban commanders had to raise their own capital from drug trafficking and foreign donations, and they had to acquire their own munitions, which wasn't all that difficult in Pakistan. But in mid-2009, as American surge forces began flooding into southern Afghanistan, the ISI adopted a far more hands-on strategy. Concerned that U.S. gains on the battlefield would hobble the Afghan insurgency, ISI spymasters began interacting with far more Taliban commanders, often providing them arms and intelligence via civilian intermediaries. According to one assessment, at least half of all insurgent commanders were working closely with ISI operatives by the spring of 2011.

3. Afghan soldiers decided to hang back and let the Americans do the fighting. Instead of compelling Afghan soldiers into action, the surge sent the opposite message. What was supposed to be a kick in the pants -- or at least a golden opportunity to work in tandem with the Americans -- turned into a crutch. And that doesn't even take into account the recent spike in "green-on-blue" attacks; they are due, in part, to infiltration of the security forces by the Taliban, which accelerated during the rushed effort to expand the Afghan army.

4. The American people balked at the price tag. It costs $1 million to keep one American service member in Afghanistan for a year. That meant the annual bill for the war last year was about $100 billion. The surge also exhausted American patience, coming when the war was already in its eighth year. Even though many Americans shared the president's view that Afghanistan was a "war of necessity," only a slim majority of Americans supported his decision to send more troops. Popular support is essential for any drawn-out campaign involving tens of thousands of troops, hundreds of monthly casualties, and almost-daily fatalities. Had all the other factors played out differently -- had Karzai been a true partner, had the Pakistanis taken meaningful action against the Taliban, and had the U.S. economy not gone into reverse -- then perhaps the public could have rallied around such a large war effort. But when all those indicators pointed down, public opinion soon followed. Now, even a majority of Republicans believe the war is no longer worth fighting.

Still, despite all the misguided assumptions U.S. commanders held going into the surge, U.S. and NATO troops have made remarkable progress in the past three years. Parts of southern Afghanistan that were once teeming with insurgents are now largely peaceful. Schools have reopened, as have bazaars. People in some of those places are living as close to a normal life as possible. But Afghanistan as a whole is not fully secure. Eastern parts of the country are still in the grip of the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction that Mullen has called a "veritable arm" of the ISI. And in the south, a critical question lingers: Will the Afghans -- the government, the army and the police force -- have the will and the ability to take the baton from American troops? Will the Afghans sustain the gains? Will all of the blood and treasure the United States has expended have been worth it? Or will Afghanistan slip back to chaos?

None of this means the Talibs will be able to roll into Kabul with the same ease as they did in the 1990s; the Kabul government won't fall as Saigon's did in Vietnam. The Afghan army, it appears, should be able to protect major cities and other critical areas. But the insurgents almost certainly will expand control of rural districts, and they will retain the ability to conduct frequent attacks against government and civilian targets. The foreseeable future will be messy and chaotic. But many Americans may well see it as acceptable. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is on the ropes. The Taliban leadership has taken a beating.

Could all of that have occurred without a surge? Could the United States have achieved a similarly messy but good-enough outcome without hundreds more dead Americans and thousands more gravely wounded? More than 1,100 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan since the first troops arrived in Afghanistan in January 2010. Of course, many hundreds of Americans likely would have been killed had Obama held troop levels at the pre-surge level of 68,000.

Surge proponents insist that the influx of troops was essential to reversing the Taliban's momentum and creating enough breathing room to build the Afghan army. But accomplishing those goals did not require large conventional Army and Marine brigades tromping through the desert. Special Operations forces deserve a lot of the credit for the pummeling of the Taliban. Their numbers -- and those of the training force for the Afghan army -- could have been augmented without a full-on surge. All it required was reallocating the mix of troops already on the ground.

Commanders insist that the large surge force was crucial to assembling the necessary intelligence for special operators to conduct their raids. I don't buy it. The vast majority of the night raids conducted in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 were based on signals intelligence -- mobile phone calls, text messages, and conversations on walkie-talkies that were vacuumed up by the National Security Agency and the U.S. military eavesdropping aircraft that continuously circled over the country -- not on information provided by villagers who suddenly felt safer because American troops were around. The intelligence analysts who assembled "target packets" -- the material given to Special Operations teams that identified where individual insurgent leaders were hiding -- had a bias against tips from Afghans who walked up to U.S. bases. More often than not, the supposed bad guy was simply a member of a rival tribe or someone who had a dispute with the tipster. It was a lesson the Americans had learned the hard way: Too often, in the early years of the war, U.S. troops had unwittingly been pulled into local conflicts. By relying on phones and radios, they avoided that problem.

So what should the president have done back in 2009? Well, I'm not one of those who think we should have just packed up and left. Had we done that -- or if we do that today -- it likely would condemn Afghans to the hell of a prolonged insurgency or another civil war. When the United States launched the war in 2001, Washington made an implicit promise to the Afghan people: that if they stood with America against the Taliban, we'd give them a shot at a better, freer life. But that didn't require a counterinsurgency strategy and a surge that tired us out.

One of the protagonists in my book, a former State Department officer named Kael Weston who spent seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan -- more than any other American diplomat -- argued that instead of going big or going home, we should have gone long. The president needed to determine how many troops he was willing to commit to Afghanistan for a decade or more, and then he needed to pledge that level of support to the Afghan people. That meant no surge. But Weston was convinced that a smaller but enduring force would be smarter on all fronts: It would appeal to the Afghans, who chafed at the presence of so many foreign soldiers on their soil; it would compel the Afghan army to more quickly assume responsibility for fighting the Taliban and securing the population; it would encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table; and it would force the Americans to focus on only the most essential missions instead of grand nation-building projects. Afghanistan, he often told me, is a marathon, not a sprint. The surge was a sprint. And America got winded too quickly.

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